ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…”
— The Book of Ecclesiastes, the Old Testament
These words of wisdom apply well to discussion last Thursday night about the purchase of a new pumper for the Dorr Township Fire Department.
The Township Board eventually approved buying the new unit for well over $500,000, but not before Trustee John Tuinstra, who might be an even bigger cheapskate than I am, asked Fire Chief Gary Fordham if he had shopped around for a used truck in order to save money.
Fordham wasted no time in explaining he had no interest in buying a cheaper, used unit when it came to the safety of local residents and of firefighters under his watch.
Indeed, as Ecclesiates has taught us, there is a time to buy cheaply, to be frugal, but when the subject is human public safety, there also is a time to be most mindful of product quality.
Tuinstra said there are people who live on his block who have never had a new car or truck, and some never will. But that isn’t the issue here.
A fire department deserves to be given the tools it needs to do the work of protecting the people. It certainly is possible that a cheaper used truck would suffice, but basing the purchase only on cost could be jeopardizing the lives of volunteer firefighters and citizens in the township.
On a personal level, I have made many cheap purchases at thrift stores and at groceries such as Aldi, but I am careful to make those kinds of purchases low risk. For example, I am of the opinion that cheap aluminum foil can perform just as well as the high-priced product. And there are other products, such as generic over the counter drugs that contain the same ingredients as the better known offerings. I shop accordingly, perhaps a lot like Tuinstra.
But once again, there is a time to be cheap, and a time to insist on new and quality. And buying a new fire truck, where lives will be at stake, is not the right time to be cutting corners.